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Shares in Greggs (GRG.L) are soaring after it said profits would be higher than previously expected, fuelled by sales of vegan sausage rolls and other new initiatives.
Healthier food options, savvy publicity, eat-in stores and late-night opening trials have helped Greggs shrug off the troubles of many other well-known high street chains.
The company said on Monday like-for-like sales were up 8.3% in the six weeks to 9 November in its company-managed branches, and total sales were up 12.4%.
It said in a trading statement full-year pre-tax profits would be higher than stated previously. Its shares were up 13.4% in early trading in London after the announcement.
It said earlier this year that “publicity surrounding its vegan-friendly sausage roll” had boosted sales, with media outlets sent tasters of the quorn products in iPhone-style boxes. The magazine PR Week called it a ‘masterclass in public relations.’
“Sales growth continues to be driven by increased customer visits and has been stronger than we had expected given the improving comparative sales pattern that we saw in the fourth quarter last year,” it said in the latest update.
UK shoppers spent over £1.3bn ($1.68bn) on vegan and vegetarian products last year, according to research by supermarket shopping app Ubamarket.
Figures also suggest almost 19 million meat eaters now buy vegan and vegetarian products, while almost 12 million are stocking up on gluten-free meals despite having no intolerance.
Separate research from supermarket Waitrose suggests 33% of people have meat-free or meat-reduced diets and there are 3.5 million vegans in the UK.